Hinchcliffe takes on swimmer Lochte in 'Dancing' faceoff tonight

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The challenge changes for Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe and partner Sharna Burgess in tonight’s third week of “Dancing with the Stars” Season 23 competition. The 60-minute show airs live at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

This week features “faceoff” competition with two couples going head-to-head performing the same dance. Hinchcliffe and Burgess will will square off with Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and partner Cheryl Burke, performing the cha cha. The couple earning the higher judges’ scores tonight receives immunity and cannot be eliminated when the next of the 12 couples to leave is announced on Tuesday’s results show (8 p.m. ET).

Fan voting will still be important because it could save a couple not receiving immunity tonight from being eliminated Tuesday.

“This week with faceoff, we are going against Ryan and Cheryl doing the cha cha,” Hinchcliffe said on his “Dancing with the Stars” video diary. “It’s going to be really interesting to see how this shakes out – not just with our faceoff, but with all of them. There’s some interesting matchups there and it’s going to be interesting to see who comes away with immunity out of the whole thing.

“If one couple that might have been lower down on the list nails this and gets immunity and puts a couple that hadn’t really had to worry about that kind of in the line of fire, it could throw a curveball in the show, for sure.”

Hinchcliffe and Burgess – who go by the hashtag #TeamStopAndGo – were able to get in a full week of preparation for tonight, as opposed to the previous week when they were able to practice for less than two days before Hinchcliffe had to compete in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, on Sept. 18.

The additional practice time has helped the 29-year-old Canadian and four-time race winner feel a bit more comfortable. But not at ease.

“For me, the most challenging part of the show is just every week having to start essentially from scratch,” Hinchcliffe said. “As you go through the competition, there will be more things that transfer from one dance to another, but Sharna and I have gone from foxtrot to paso (doble) and now on to cha cha. There’s not a ton of correlation between the three, so every week starting from ground zero again is a big challenge, for sure.”

Hinchcliffe also admitted he is becoming more attached to the competition and its pressures each week.

“I mean, by this point in the competition you’re just so involved in it, you’re so deep in it, that you don’t really have time to worry about or think about anything else,” he said. “I’m happy that my other commitments, my ‘day job,’ that’s done with and the (racing) season’s over and now I can focus solely on this.

“I thought that meant you’d almost have more time, but you don’t. You’re still so focused, you’re just so engulfed in everything that this show requires that it still seems pretty flat out.”

Fan voting opens as soon as the show starts at 8 p.m. ET today and remains open through 11 a.m. ET Tuesday. Phone votes for Hinchcliffe and Burgess can be registered toll-free at (800) 868-3405. Fans can also vote for them online at abc.com or on the “Dancing with the Stars” Facebook page. To order merchandise to show your support for #TeamStopAndGo, click here.

Watch Hinchcliffe’s DWTS video diary here.

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